It’s tax time again and for the past couple of years I’ve been struck that my method of giving is totally unrecognized by the government. Before you mistake this as a complaint, it’s not, it’s simply an observation that I wish to bring to the attention of those that are interested in love. It has slowly become my conviction that what the government calls “charity” is exactly self-interest in disguise. Why self interest? Giving to get. If I give X to a valid 501(c)3 organization I’ll get my tax write off. I admit that loving the way God tells us to love is full of rewards, but none of those rewards have anything to do with mammon. Giving to get a tax write off is simply NOT charity… call it what you will, but don’t call it love.
For more clarity I call your attention to one of the most well known passages of Scripture. Where do we get our understanding of love? Is it not from the story of the Samaritan? After all, who loved their neighbor? The one who picked up a stranger, washed his wounds (at expense to himself) and paid for his needs of recovery. Where were the other two headed (the priest and the Levite), but off to their jobs at the governmentally-recognized institution.
Ironically the government does not recognize “contribution to a specific individual” or “contribution to a nonqualified organization”. The Samaritan’s expenses would not have been recognized by the government. The irony is rich and hopefully the implications are clear. What God desires is not for us to leverage and extra percentage or two by getting a tax write off, but rather to be open to do radical works of love to those whom won’t be recognized or “qualified” as outlets for the world’s charity.